"Impermanent Resonance" is the second release
by the current lineup for the James LaBrie Band (as I prefer to call them),
following the exceptional "Static Impulse." Because of how much much I loved
that last album, and the fact that ex-Soilwork main man Peter Wichers was
assisting on this album, I had very high hopes for "Impermanent Resonance."
Unfortunately, it's a real "hit or miss" affair.
The album starts very strongly with my favorite
track, "Agony." Once again, drummer Peter Wildoer (Darkane) sings first on
James' album. A lot of people have issues with the use of harsh vocals on the
last release, but I am not one of them. I love harsh vocals and Peter is great
at doing them. "Agony" could have been on "Static Impulse." The next two tracks,
"Undertow" and "Slight Of Hand," are not quite as heavy but are still solid
songs with good hooks and catchy choruses.
It's at this point that the problems begin for
me. The next four tracks are basically the same song done four slightly
different ways...mostly different lyrics! The tempo, the melodies and the sugary
lyrics are all front and center on each track. I kept waiting for something
different...more energy, anything! The "blame" rests with James' right hand man
Matt Guillory, who has written with James on each album. Three of the four songs
are solo compositions for Matt. James obviously didn't object to any of the
songs, so he gets some blame as well. The band does their very best on each
track, but there's such a sameness. The next track, "Letting Go," is a bit
better with more energy and a reappearance of Peter on harsh vocals.
Unfortunately, things deteriorate back to slower, dull tracks with "Destined To
Burn" and the ultra top-40 song "Say You're Still Mine." The only good thing
about that song is that it is at least different from the other slower songs.
"Amnesia" finally starts to turn the ship
around with a lot more energy, better lyrics and a forceful hook. "I Will Not
Break" is the last song on the standard edition of the album and it is similar
to the opener "Agony": extremely aggressive with some insane playing.
The bonus tracks (I LOVE BONUS TRACKS!) are both great songs that should have
replaced any of the aforementioned "snoozers" -- you can pick two. "Unraveling"
is a slower song but nothing like those songs before -- stronger melody and
better lyrics. "Why" is another fast-paced song, which this album is sorely
It's unusual to say that an album would be
better with fewer songs, but for "Impermanent Resonance" that's definitely the
case. If you include the bonus tracks, drop a few slower tracks and re-sequence
it so that things never slow down too much for too long, I would give this one a
higher rating. James' voice sounds as good as it ever has, Peter is one of the
best drummers on the planet, Marco Sfogli and Ray Riendeau are solid. Matt
Guillory is the glue, as he always is on James' albums. Despite some weaker
songs this time out, Matt is quite talented at writing songs and of course
playing the keys. Hopefully the next release fulfills what could have been on